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Munster Express was handed two-month JobBridge ban after complaint from intern

Journalism graduate Martin Malone said that he was given no mentoring and claimed the newspaper were using the scheme for free labour.

Paul Murphy MEP (right) and Martin Malone, photographer and JobBridge intern, at today's press conference.
Paul Murphy MEP (right) and Martin Malone, photographer and JobBridge intern, at today's press conference.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE MUNSTER EXPRESS newspaper was banned from the JobBridge scheme for two months after the Department of Social Protection found that they breached rules under the scheme.

At press conference in Dublin this morning organised by ScamBridge.ie, journalism graduate Martin Malone said that he was given no mentoring at the Munster Express, claiming it is now selling photographs he took to benefit the newspaper:

I very rarely had any contact with the assigned mentor apart for the odd nod in the offices.  The Munster Express clearly used JobBridge to provide them with services that they would otherwise have to pay for.  They were aware that it was displacing work.  They had no intention of providing any training or development of the intern they took on.

Malone made an official complaint to the department alleging that he was required to supply his own equipment for the role and that the hours of work exceeded the 60 hours a week allowed.

The newspaper denied the allegations saying that he was indeed given mentoring “commensurate with our judgement and his abilities”. They rejected that he was required to work more than the allowable hours, saying that the position was assignment based and would take 30 hours a week to complete.

The company also said that there was “no substance” to the allegation that they were using JobBridge to displace paid labour.

The Department of Social Protection say they launched an investigation after Malone’s complaint to them and, in a addition to banning them from hiring photographers in JobBridge, they say that:

Future JobBridge placements will be regularly monitored to ensure that appropriate mentoring is provided and that therms and conditions of the scheme are adhered to.

The Munster Express was also banned completely from the JobBridge scheme for a period of two months from October. But Malone said their penalty is insufficient:

The sanction they applied, does not, in my opinion, really penalise the company. They have been barred from hiring a photographer or videographer under the scheme but are still free to hire interns in other areas. I feel that this has largely let them off the hook and is no real punishment.

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy also criticised the penalty and added that all companies who have been investigated by the department should be named.

“There are apparently 35 companies which have been banned so far from JobBridge. Munster Express is the first to be named as Minister Joan Burton has allowed the rest of them to hide. This must be ended,” he said.

Murphy also wants the money that was paid to the Munster Express to be repaid to the state and Malone be compensated for the work he did while an intern there.

- Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell

FactCheck: Were 58,000 new jobs created in Ireland in 2013? >

Read: Protests at some Advance Pitstop branches over JobBridge internships >

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